Marcell Ozuna, Braves Choose Value Over Commitment

The latest issue went out to subscribers overnight, with my extended thoughts on Marcell Ozuna signing with the Braves. I dug into how the Braves made the choice to pursue this instead of upping their offer to Josh Donaldson, and what their offense looks like for 2020. I also pondered the current state of the NL East. Here’s an excerpt on Ozuna himself, and what makes him unique:

His swing is wildly unorthodox, with a big leg kick (that sometimes goes nowhere), an early hip clearance, a tilt just like that of the model modern power hitter—and then a really bizarre, very quick, yet unathletic whip of bat through zone. He generates a ton of bat speed, but doesn’t contact the ball with the bat more or less perpendicular to the flight path of the pitch as often as most hitters do. He extends his arms (especially his back arm) far, far more than most hitters do before and through the point of contact. It’s really difficult to read the ball off his bat, which sometimes helps his BABIP, but the resultant slice hurts his power production. Meanwhile, he can be tied up inside, and he doesn’t cover the low, outside corner well. He’ll expand his zone, especially down, and is even susceptible to a right-on-right changeup tumbling in toward his feet. When he’s right, he can be a nightmare for opposing pitchers, but his unique setup, swing, and approach are a nightmare for a coaching staff tasked with keeping him right. It’s funny: he and Starlin Castro have had radically different career arcs, but Castro is just eight months older than Ozuna, and they now seem very, very similar—from broad things like their poorly-aging bodies and discouraging defensive profiles, to details of their swings and approaches. I certainly expect Ozuna to be a better hitter in 2020, but not by so much that it invalidates the comparison.

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